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Miniaturization Reaches A New High With DNA Made Nano Thermometer

The trend of miniaturization has now transformed a thermometer to a futuristic nanoscale device. A group of researchers from the University of Montreal has fabricated an ultrasmall, programmable DNA thermometer, which is 20000x smaller than human hair. The current invention will possibly produce accurate results over a wide range of temperatures and results in a linear ultrasensitive response curve between the fluorescence marker and temperature.

Referring to a proven fact, scientists now believe that DNAs are heat responsive. Simply putting, when excess heat is incident on the target DNA, it loses it's double helix structure. Senior Author Professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle explained that biochemicals such as proteins or RNAs act as nano-temperature-sensors, inside a living organism and exhibits corresponding movements by folding or unforlding. Inspired by such natural phenomena, scientists tried to incorporate similar technology using DNA where it folds and unfolds at the predefined temperature.


First author David Gareau explained that the application of DNA in molecular engineering plays an important role as their simple structure favours all the methodical approaches. Information related to our genes are stored inside the DNA, which primarily consists of four specific nucleotides. Among them, Adenine is glued with Thymine with the help of weak double Hydrogen bonds, whereas Guanine and Cytosine are connected with each other with relatively stronger, 3 Hydrogen bonds. Furthermore, optical receptors are embedded in the system which helps to create a 5 nm-wide thermometers that allows signals to be calculated as a function of the temperature.

With the help of recent advances, engineering has spreads its roots deeper into biology, resulting in integrated systems. Prof. Vallée-Bélisle explained that their research breakthrough is an initial step taken to realize the complexities of thermo-regulation system at the nanoscale. As an example, he cited that our body is maintained at 37° C but till now, researchers have little idea regarding how an individual cell contributes to maintain that. The complete research report was published in the ACS Nano journal.

Source: ACS Nano

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